Travel is Broadening

photo-8Cindy: It sounds like Lynn and the focus group are having enormous fun in France and still keeping up on their reading…They are currently reading The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies, which they love but Lynn says is gorier than she would have guessed. It is a mystery and they are having a LOT of discussion about who is the villain! Here are some snippets from her emails for those of you who want to travel vicariously. Me? I’m soaking up her reports and reading To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg to soothe my travel lust. We’ll be blogging that one soon…it’s fabulous.

Excerpts from Lynn’s Travel Emails:

It is a cliche to say that travel is broadening but it is true in so many ways! Aside from the obvious sights, monuments, and historical places, there are so many small things we are noticing. TV is much less of an institution here and of course it is in French anyway. with it out of the “picture” we are reading together more than ever which does create a very special shared experience and we now read together at least three times a day at the boys’ request. ah, be still my heart!

We are all up, drinking coffee or chocolate in the Loire Valley on Monday morning. It is sunny and lovely and we just opened the shutters on the door and I can see the roses growing just outside the door. (Sounds positively horrid, doesn’t it?–cd) Yesterday we drove along the river Cher to visit one of my favorite chateaux, Chenonceaux. It is built across the river like a bridge and is flanked by beautiful formal gardens and a large wooded area. It has furniture, fascinating kitchen equipment, paintings and tapestries and feels as if the residents just stepped away. the rooms each had an enormous flower arrangement with flowers from the gardens and they were so gorgeous they almost outshone the house. We explored every inch as the boys were determined to see it all. Their favorite feature was the maze though where they met a set of twin girls from Chicago :-). (The link above has great photos of the elements Lynn describes–cd)

We fixed meals at the house yesterday which worked out well and we figured out the various appliances including a microwave that has to be made on some other planet! The boys have been drinking milk by the gallon and I am reminded how much I appreciate the milk that comes in boxes here. You buy it in packs of six and it doesn’t have to be refrigerated until you open it. Our refrigerator is the size of a shoe box so getting everything in it is a challenge and it is great to put the boxes of milk on the shelf! We have been eating some fabulous little melons that are a sort of cross between a watermelon and a cantaloupe and are a little bigger than a softball. The sign on them at the market said chartreuse melons but they are orange inside and SO sweet.

We were invited next door last night for drinks on the patio and we had fun talking to our hosts who are English. They had orangeina for the boys and they sat there so politely discussing what they had seen at the chateaux. It was funny to watch them be so serious about the differences between our countries. They have provided some games that are new to us. Today we played boules and tonight we all learned to play Guess Who. Our days are filled with many new large and fascinating experiences but it is nice to realize that the small things are special too. Of course there is the food! The boys have taken to French bread, and the glorious butter, cheese, milk, and hot chocolate like ducks to water! Then there are the omelets with frites, the little melons, the tiny plums and for my husband and I, all of the above and the lovely local wines! I just hope we are walking so much that only our minds are becoming broad!

photo-3Today we balanced the stunning extravagance of the Loire chateaux with a visit to a Troglodite site. It was a stark contrast and generated a lot of dinner table discussion although the boys were even more impressed by the many small lizards that live in the rocks! Well, you get teachable moments where you can 😉

 Cindy: Don’t you wish WE could all be there with them???? Sigh.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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